only vegan in the village

img_20160709_180857Lunch or dinner bell on the porch rings, a cowboy classic forged two foot triangle. Everyone breaks; rehearsal, music, carp & props shop, wardrobe, LX, office, guests. Line up, wash your hands, grab a plate/bowl/mug. Camp cook style circle the island, serve yourself. The vegan option tucked off to the side at the end of the line or else everyone else will help themselves to it before the vegan gets there. That is to say, I am pretty consistently the only vegan on the farm. Sometimes there’s a  handful of vegetarians; who say they also eat eggs or they eat fish and my inside voice goes ‘wtf?’ but I barely voice my opinion on it.

The theatre company I’ve worked for, for a long time is an isolated 80 acre farm way up a mountain outside a small community. Some people live locally and commute but the majority of us travel from all over the country for a one to two month contract in the summer, winter; sometimes spring/fall. There was once a time I was here more than I was at home. Part of the contact is a provision for housing (a cabin or tent spot on the farm) and meals. The two cooks prepare lunch and dinner, do their best to accommodate everyone’s dietary needs.

img_20160709_172110Lucky for me they’re two very close friends of mine. Cooking vegan comes second nature to Kate who spent time in the late 90’s working with Food Not Bombs Montreal. Jason enjoys the challenge flavoring tofu, bbqing portobellos and mastering the vegan pancake which he never seemed satisfied with until I told him about aquafaba; this past summer he proclaimed bean juice made his best vegan pancakes. I agree. I’m also gluten free. I’m not hard to please but not easy to feed.

Left to my own devises I’m the laziest cook – over night oats, chopped raw veggies and cold tofu splashed with apple cider vinegar and Braggs. I don’t think I’ve ever made dressing – shaking a jar? Too much work! I spend more time on pour over coffee than I do dinner. I have tons of cook books. I love following vegan food blogs, reading and sharing recipes, talking about food with other vegans. I use to cook a lot and I dig a project, especially baking but increasingly these days I only have time for quick simple fuel. These two, however, are pros. They think about flavors and meal planning all day long. They’re meticulous and fussy and critical of their own work. They’re artists the way they work in the kitchen.

img_20160705_182638 After all these years this is the only meal I have ever managed to photograph. I took it to send to Darby to say ‘Damn, you’d like this!’ I always mean to keep a log of their meals but I’ll have eaten half of it by the time I remember. This is sweet chili tofu & mushrooms with roasted cauliflower, green onions and kale salad buried beneath. It’s one of the best bowls I’ve eaten in the mudroom. Every Sunday is taco night and I constantly tell Jason if he did it every night I’d be happy. I skip the taco and just fill a bowl with his cumin spiced beans, roasted lime sweet potato cubes, fresh salsa & guacamole and Kate’s pickled red onions. It’s so good. It’s my absolutely favorite kind of meal.

img_20161228_130107Buddy checking out the gluten free vegan strawberry coconut cake Jason is eating, that he made for my birthday. Me: looking like I haven’t showered or slept in a few days. Accurate.

The mudroom is off the kitchen. Most of the company eats in the main room or outside on picnic tables. Over the years I’ve grown tired of sitting with everyone else eating animals and commenting on how much they enjoy being carnivores. I don’t believe they’re intentionally pointing it out to me, though some have made a joke about what I’m ‘missing’ and again I don’t voice my opinion. If they want it, I’ll oblige but I’ve fallen into the trap of saying what I really think and casting a gloom over the gathering. I choose the path of gentle guidance. With the internet and growing awareness of animal cruelty people can find any number of resource if they’re curious and I’m more than happy to suggest documentaries, websites or books. In fact I might get a little over enthusiastic when asked. I just try my best to lead by example and show that vegans thrive. In the mudroom, I sit with a small crew of my favorite people. They respect my veganism, even though none of them, the cooks included, choose this lifestyle they’ll often will say the vegan option I’m eating is better than the non vegan option.

img_20161217_115555Plus, dogs were banned from the main room during meal times (wtf?) but we mischief-makers in the mudroom said: Fuck that rule, dogs are welcome!

  1. FoodFeud said:

    Haha, yr first comment makes me think of the time my extended family all went out to a steakhouse for dinner and I got a plate of fries, one of the few vegan items on the menu – my sister kept picking off my plate until I snapped, “you realize this is my entire dinner, right??” Sometimes all the vegan stuff is gone at a communal meal before vegans even get to it! I’ve never really understood that, either, why not just make more of the things more people can eat??
    Which is not to say that it sounds like yr friends don’t hook you up. I can almost taste the cumin beans and lime-y sweet potatoes! And that;s a gorgeous mushroom/cauliflower bowl. I want to try to make that! I loooove mushrooms but never think to use them as a meaty substitute – they’re probably fantastic in BBQ sauce!
    All that said, I’m generally with you these days on the food as fuel thing. I mentioned that in a post recently. It’s not always the most pleasurable meals, but they get the job done and obviously you have a lot of other wonderful things to keep you occupied!
    PS that kitchen looks so cozy. Love the wall of hanging mugs, ha!

    • lysette said:

      Aww, steakhouse fries for dinner is sad, but then they see that and all think being vegan is hard and the answer to that is ‘No it’s not. Your restaurant choice just sucks!’ Yeah it’s nobody’s fault, people just go into auto-pilot when they’re serving themselves and dig into everything they see. K&J noticed that early on and started putting stuff off to the side for me. They feed 50 plus people every meal on an arts budget, lol. I’m grateful, they have so much to juggle plus my pain in the ass needs. Omg mushrooms are the best, he’ll do a typical maple syrup tamari marinade combined with the smokiness of the grill, augh! Maud it’s heaven! I keep telling myself to get a hibachi so I can replicate it at home too. I think the mushrooms and tofu was just fried up with sweet chili, garlic and onions, the roast cauliflower had lemon and maybe almond slivers? Yes, I caught that tone in your posts, I tried leaving a message on FF but I think the ether swallowed it. Without a Blogger account it always puts me through different trials to prove I’m not a robot so unless I see the comment loaded I don’t know if it went though or not, and I’m paranoid about spamming you again! If it didn’t go through I’ll try again. That’s true, the good thing about not having time to mess about in the kitchen is cause I got other rad stuff I’m busy with (other than being lazy, hahaha) At least you and I dig our vegetables so much! ahaha if Jason really wants to make me smile he just roasts a kabocha squash. I really am easy to please 😉

    • lysette said:

      It’s a pretty cool old building, lots of character and spirits (and critters) I do miss it a lot between contracts but then when I’m there I miss home, kinda a win win or lose lose depending on how I’m looking at it. Ha, yeah I was scrolling through my photos and surprised over 15 years I had ONE photo of a meal. One. I’ve broken a sacred vegan commandment: ‘Thou shalt document and share all of ye bowls!’

  2. that bowl looks bloody good. And Buddy!

    And ha ha, I can’t leave without this:

    • lysette said:

      Hahaha thanks for sharing that Faye, I love subtle not so subtle innuendo too like a precursor to the Shake Weight. Buddy is the best! He’s like a dog human cat hybrid ❤

  3. Jenny said:

    The tofu looks delicious! I’m glad the chefs are accommodating 🙂 I choose gentle guidance too, mostly because I’m pathologically afraid of confrontation. Cake is my activism.

    • lysette said:

      You and me both Jenny ❤ I'm a sensitive introvert and confrontation echos in me long after it's passed. I prefer a positive route and there's nothing better than sharing delicious vegan eats together. For sure there is a time and place for throwing down the gauntlet but in my experience people just close up. That said, Earthlings was the final straw for my partner so depending on the circumstance the brutal reality of why we are ethical vegans can be very effective.

  4. ameyfm said:

    how sweet that the cooks are willing to cook for you – and your vegan and GF needs. that is so rad. Your tofu bowl looks really incredible! I wish I were eating it right now. Also, I will always chose to eat with dogs. Everything is better with dogs.

    • lysette said:

      Thanks Amey! Yes, they’re awesome, I wish I was eating it right now too! lol, Everything IS better with dogs! ❤ī¸

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